Keepin’ Up or Keeping It Real?

Am I keeping up or keeping it real?

Brandishing the mental health blogger brush within the social media realm, has allowed me to explore my outlook on wellbeing to the many. I even have the opportunities to discuss my journey in workshops, panels, events and every time I do a pop up with my business Keep Real.

I submerge myself in mental health news, keeping up with the latest articles and wonderful folk who are fighting stigma and openly discussing the topic more. Lately however, I forget to look at my own mental health when I am focused on finding everything out about everyone else. The constant need to feel updated.

This past week, I got-to thinkin’. Am I ‘keeping up’ or am I ‘keeping it real’? Priding myself on the brand I have created, has given me permission to explore its true meaning, and why two years ago I needed to create an extension of my ethos to stay true for mental health. 

According to Online Lang Dictionary, to ‘keep it real’ means “to stay true to one’s self; to resist the temptation to be fake.”. My brand/ ethos literally hits the nail on the head right there. So why do I feel lost in my own manifesto?

Recently, I dropped my phone into a toilet (pre-wee thank goodness), to which it never repaired (bet you didn’t think this would be my revelation story!). The journey of not having sustained access to all the news, the latest, the messages and scrolling habits- literally sunk to the bottom of the bowl in a mighty *th-lunk*. 

My reaction to not having a phone, was yes, inconvenient. My first thoughts (to my surprise) was not ‘Holy moly! I have to update my instagram/ twitter! How can I possibly scroll through the internet now?!’. It was a concern for safety…and my online train tickets I couldn’t retrieve. For the 5 days without it, I didn’t feel as upset as I thought I would be. 

The journey of not having sustained access to all the news, the latest, the messages and scrolling habits- literally sunk to the bottom of the bowl in a mighty *th-lunk*. 

The largest inconvenience of not having any digital communication, was while I was sat on a delayed train for 4 hours trying to get into Leeds. I even asked the train guard to borrow their phone, who looked at me in utter disbelief when I asked, ‘Excuse me, I don’t have a phone, may I borrow yours so I can ring my work?’. No technology to hand? Sacrilegious. 

I tend to back away from my phone a lot during a commute, with a priority to reading (currently it’s Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker) and going through my filofax diary. You know…trying to keep it real.

I had surprised myself in my innate response to the lack of a personal device. We are so accustomed to accessing all the information, all of the time. No one forgot about me. No one cared that I didn’t update my social platforms. The only important things I couldn’t do, concerned my work and peace of mind if I needed immediate help. Not social media, not ‘keeping up’ like I thought.

Remembering why ‘Keep Real’ exists, eliminates that fear within that I have to keep up. I do what I do now, because I’m proud to navigate reality and the digital world within my small strides. 

We are so accustomed to accessing all the information, all of the time.

Having your own pace, is so important. Being a self-employed ‘go-getter’ if you will, does not mean I have to keep pushing to know more, do more, be more. Neither should you.

Keepin’ it real suits me fine. 

I’m hosting a Mental Health MOT & Mindset Workshop with Scrivener, Wednesday 5th June at Leeds Postal Service! FREE tickets here

Retail & Mental Health

Working in retail this time last year, really affected my mental health. Having now experienced this year not working in a retail environment after 5-6 years of doing so, has made me realise how deeply it affected me. But you can get through this. Here’s how.

If you’re working in retail right now, you’ll be doing the Black Friday slog and the run up to Christmas. It’s peak time, you’ll be working more hours to keep the store running and obeying the inpatient demands of the general public. You’ll get the lovely regulars with a mix of extremely inpatient customers- but all in all, the magic of Christmas can be beautiful…yet for some, very hard to enjoy. 

Image by Suzanne Wright Photographer

Customer service is rewarding, and building those relationships can be some of the best parts to the retail world. Every job comes with its trials and tribulations, but when you work in retail- you don’t really have the option to take time off during the busiest part of the year, or the option to not smile and have a bad day. So when your mental health is suffering, what options do you have?

I loved where I used to work and I still love them. I have learned that my mental health deteriorated in the slope to Christmas, and even though the end of the year is always the most magical, it is also one of the most stressful and in my experience, the hardest to get through. I remember one specific night two years ago, leaving from a late night, and literally running and crying all the way home because I just wanted to curl up and have a day off.  It was raining, I was tired after getting a 2 hour commute home and I ran the last part home. RAN. Then I woke up at 5am the next day to do it all over again.


So What Can You Do?

Share your concerns with your Manager. Let one of your superiors know how you feel, whether that’s your supervisor, floor manager or whoever. Tell a colleague, but remember you need the right support from your employer. They’ll be able to see what they can do for you. Also remember, they are human! They are working in retail at the busiest and most stressful time of the year. Stick together and ask questions like, “Hey, I wondered if you had time at all this morning or later in the day for a quick chat?”, “I’d love to run something by you in private, if you have time today?”. Even if they can give you a quick 10 minutes in the back when it’s becoming too much- as long as they are aware…you’re in safer hands. Don’t struggle in silence.

If you need a mental health day…take one. To do a good job, be productive and also be a wonderful part of the team- you need to take care of yourself. Being at work and knowing you’re not feeling your best, isn’t helping yourself or any of your colleagues…that’s both physically or mentally. Try not to feel guilty (I’m with you on trying/failing at that!). Your best self is a cared for self. Take the time you need.

Christmas is a mush. Give your mental health some structure. You may be working long as heck hours, different shift patterns and days can pass in a stressful blur. Making a note of how you feel can be really important in trying to track what you’re going through mentally. Assign colours to different moods (blue- ok day, yellow-happy/smooth day, black- terrible day etc) and see if you can spot some patterns. The Mental Health Foundation have some great tools on how to support mental health at work. 

Know your rights. This is so important. If you feel you’re being treated unfairly by your employer, know that you have a right to challenge discrimination. Time To Change set this out clearly and can signpost you to the correct services, especially when it comes to legal stuff and action to take. Unsure of what the Equality Act covers? You can check out the types of discrimination here on Mind’s website.


It’s hard to keep happy during the Christmas period, just know you are not alone in feeling that way. Please check out Keep Real’s list of careline that are available.

Social Platform Creature: Our Mental Health Impact

Being the social creatures we are- having connections is something we feel makes a profound difference in our lives to establish meaning and fulfilment. It’s super sweet, it makes us do the floss (which I’ve recently discovered the name of as that funny dance with the hands and the hips…) and it allows us to go “Heck yeah, this makes me want to LIVE!” in some way or some form. Thank goodness for technology- I can feel connected straight away when I’m having a hard time.

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Then why do so many of us feel that loss of meaning in a digital world? That niggling desire to perhaps gain a love heart on a photo, buy the latest tech or that pair of trousers you know you don’t need but you want to purchase anyway (Oh, wouldn’t they look great on my feed?!)…


We’re hardwired by all sorts of thaaangs to want more. More of everything. Sure, we can connect quicker and establish relationships faster- making our millennial age, the years of the throw away feelings (Hi, Tinder). But it also means we’re quick to focus on such a microscopic lens of our lives and dissect everything within an online platform. I feel we need to fall back in love with the slower processes- the most meaningful of relationships with ourselves, our loved ones and the world.

And maybe switch off our phones more often…maybe like a lot.

From the Mental Health Foundation, 49% of 18-24 year olds who have experienced high levels of stress, felt that comparing themselves to others was a source of stress, which was higher than in any of the older age groups. In 2015, Time Magazine stated “Young adults are now spending more than one full day per week online, according to new survey data from a U.K. communications regulator.”

The online world has given us a great gift and a great…distraction. The idea that we can connect quicker- but we are now constantly entwined with the notion that we need the online connectivity to affirm what we want to affirm. Whether that be fame, attractiveness, money, fame etc. It has given us the instant gratification we actively seek. We are now consumerists of emotion. In a round about term, we’re a bit addicted to quick gratification.

We just need to slow everything dddooowwwwnnn. Sllllloooowwww. Sit back and away from your phone/laptop/electronic device. You got this!! We survived before and we can survive now!

We need to look at using technology in an altruistic way. To give back, to share support- to share love, kindness, gratitude. All the wonderful things that takes you away from the incessant need to just…feel connected. In a wonderful, deep way. Something as simple as seeing your friend share a snapshot of having a day off, enjoying the sunshine- break the mould and start a conversation, ask to meet up face to face next time they’re free. Not just a love heart, nor a facebook ‘reaction’.

Use this digital world to your advantage. Altruism, yes- but surround your digital self with a lot of digital love. Not a platform to subconsciously make your self esteem drop, for your bank account to fall out of your butt and overall lose your sense of self.

You got this. WE GOT THIS. 

What’s Going On, Kim?

Before I begin, I want to say how my personal mental health has changed over the years. It has fluctuated in response to a multitude of events, grown through a variety of focuses and also stayed dormant through different phases. Note that every part of that sentence, is an accumulative of change. This is what mental health is. Very much like physical health, you take more notice probably of achey bones and tension in your shoulders. However if you take note of your mood changes or events in your life timelines, you’ll know how your body and mind go through transitions. Just know that it’s ok, you’re human. I’m human. I wanted to share a small glimmer of mental hope in my life timeline at the age of 23/24 from the past 10 months.

So here goes.

Currently, I have been on anti-depressants for 5 months. I had such a difficult time during the Christmas period, knowing I wasn’t coping. I knew it was an amalgamation of things; moving out, moving away, commuting, balancing a small business and work commitments, paying my way etc etc. My days off were spent crying and feeling real down. I was even crying at work, I just knew I wasn’t doing well.

I remember going to my doctor (who, by the way- was lovely to me) – and I blubbed out that “I’m finding being an adult so hard.” She also asked me what was making me feel the way I was feeling. I knew- and still know- that I tend to have a lot on my plate. I also know, that I don’t put myself first as much as I should.

When you’ve had counselling, you have tried mindfulness, multiple apps and feel like medication is still a route you haven’t gone down yet- try it. If it helps, try it.

I actually haven’t taken my medication for 4 days. I know I should have collected my prescription, but I’ve been too focused on the fact I’m moving out. It’s also bank holiday weekend. This week has been hard.

I’m at a point where I’m unsure where I am. It’s a little unsettling and I know I need some down time to process some changes. I think I’m just exhausted. But I know there’s hope- that’s what keeps me going. There’s so much I haven’t experienced yet- what a wonderful feeling that is.

Keep going.
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Our Wellbeing & Our Product Choices

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Being mindful of our choices as people can truly help us feel that little bit better in ourselves. I hear the term ‘conscious living’ being brought up- and it’s a wonderful thing to see. Hearing of living a slower, more conscious way of life is something I have definitely focused on this last year, more so than ever. So  how does it all tie in?

So for starters…

Wellbeing is, as a definition:

The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.

There’s a lot that wellbeing is influenced by. From our mental health, what we eat, who we surround ourselves with, to what we purchase throughout our lives. Wellbeing is something we try to cultivate and maintain.

We all know that our clothes and things we buy reflect our personalities, and the essence of who we are as people. Why are we drawn to certain things? Some would say that we are attracted to specific clothes, products and objects based on our needs. Christian Jarrett from The Psychologist stated that ‘How much we see our things as an extension of ourselves, may depend in part in how confident we feel about who we are.’

So, what we’re truly saying is that it all comes from within, right? To truly see our clothes, objects, products as an extension of our inner souls, all depends on how we feel about our complete selves in the first place. We need to take a step back and reflect on our values too. Are you drawn to certain brands that reflect your personality? Or is it because it’s quick and easy to buy?

For me, I like to use products that reflect my passion for sustainability, and giving back to the Earth. Personally, I’m extremely passionate about wellbeing and taking care of our bodies. This goes from my brand choice for skincare (The Bodyshop, 70% Vegan, 100% Vegetarian, All natural ingredients, Cruelty Free, commitment of ‘Enrich Not Exploit’), to cruelty free make-up (Barry M Cosmetics and Sleek here in the UK) and my clothing choices too (going more second hand, vintage or apps like Shpock, DePop and Ebay). I believe that when I purchase something, it makes me more confident in myself by making mindful choices. My clothes are lasting longer, the personal care products I use make me feel amazing knowing they’re giving back, and I know my clothes are made from people with fairer wages, who aren’t exploited in the hard work they do.

When buying products, clothes or anything just be that little bit more mindful. If brands are doing wonderful things for others and the planet- then contributing to that can make us feel super lovely. Just by doing this, you’re making a difference- to other people, the planet and most importantly…yourself.

Isn’t that a wonderful thought?

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Noticing When You’re Struggling

Sometimes, when we’re battling through and going about our every day activities, our struggles can slip under and go undetected. So how do we know when we are struggling?
If you are struggling, please do reach out. Take a peep at the care lines available here.

We all manage stress and situational factors differently, this is just part of our human make up. Some folk can breeze through stressful parts of their life; others may be unable to cope so well. However we all battle stress, so be gentle and keep an eye on how you’re feeling.

For me personally, I can plod along just fine; even feeling a sense of calm. But there is a point where my sense of level headedness will shift and I ask myself when I’ll feel that break in my brain. I’ve noticed more so than ever before, that I can bottle up my stress and have 2 or 3 days where I feel completely overwhelmed. I cry, I cannot control or manage my thoughts and have to let myself feel everything all at once. Other days it can be waking up with a mind cloaked in sadness. But I know it’s ok, and you have to sit with sadness and let it go on it’s way.

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So how do you notice?

  • Feeling more tired than usual. Be aware during the winter months you will feel more lethargic than usual. I know I feel that at the moment with the days becoming shorter with longer nights. But if it’s been happening for more than a couple of weeks- take note. Be kind to yourself, get your 8 hours in and reach out.
  • Finding it hard to cope with everyday things. I being someone who has felt like that/ does feel like this time to time. Some days are so much harder than others. But if it’s affecting your work, tasks that are usually part of your routine that you don’t feel you can do (for example, taking a shower, making food for yourself)- this is when you need to gently step back on how you are doing.
  • Not wanting to do things you would normally enjoy. Are you taking time out to enjoy what you normally put your spare hours into? That could be just seeing your parents, going out to see friends or reading a book, playing music etc. It could be anything that you would normally never second guess as something you enjoy. However, if you’re finding that you are not enjoying what you used to- can be a sign that you are struggling.
  • Feeling like you don’t want to talk to anyone. I have had days like this, when on an average day I’ll be extremely outgoing and talking to people – then others where I don’t even want to talk to a loved one, or come into contact with any one at all. There are even days where I can’t even articulate how I feel. There are just no words, no language that can explain what’s going on in my head. This is when you need to see your behaviours as a sign that you’re having a bad day and not coping. Of course there are days you don’t have to talk to anyone, but if it’s persistent- this can be a sign you are struggling.

Please know you are not alone. Reaching out to people you feel safe to discuss how you feel is something so important. Loved ones want to help you, no matter the situation ❤

How do you notice you are struggling? Are there any tips you have to know?

 

Interview with the Award-Winning Golddigger Trust

Ok folks, I am loving the fact I’ve been receiving messages and some of y’all got on my twitter poll to do more mental health tips. It’s all in the pipeline, so keep your sweet eyes peeled! But first…big news.

Today, my business Keep Real headed to Sheffield to film an interview with a wonderful award-winning organisation called The Golddigger Trust who are just…I have no words. Just incredible! I’ve admired this bunch of lovely folk for a while, and to be asked to collab with them via my brand was just great…and to interview them was just, well, greater. A big whole experience of inspiration. They do AMAZING work for young people (their tagline Unearthing Value, Transforming Lives is just so flippin wonderful) doing courses, projects, mentoring with girls and guys concerning self esteem. Golddigger Kimberley snap

We headed over to their offices and asked them a load of questions about the work they do, what inspires them and what’s coming up for them this year. It turns out they’ve got some incredible things that they’re working on (which you can find out for yourselves in the video we’ll be putting up soon!)

What I can tell you, is that th
ey’re aiming to raise funds for their Golddigger Trust Centre For Young People. They have said that ‘As the Trust has grown, we have long held a vision for creating our own ‘centre for young people’, somewhere that they can feel at home, and from where our award winning work can expand across the city and the UK.’

How amazing!? They need as much help as they can get, and would love for so many folk to get involved with what they’re trying to do.Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 20.24.55

These people are so inspiring, and continue to inspire so many young people every single day. Please check out their campaign here and fundraise or donate to their cause here. These guys deserve so much recognition and I am humbled to have interviewed them. Having had a really sweet talk about my business, what they’re getting up to and what we could potentially do together is just beautiful. I cannot wait to share with you what we’ve done and tell you more about the trust!

Sending all my love ❤

 

The Crybaby Club

Hello wonderful folk! I had the amazing opportunity to work with the beautiful souls over at the Crybaby Club over in the US, and contribute handwritten love letters to their Crybaby Care Packages. They also interviewed me as one of their Artist Collaborators (check it out here), in which I discuss wellness, and my business Keep Real.

“It is our hope to inspire and unite girls/women all over the world in friendship, all while supporting and empowering one another, and learning to love each other and ourselves for exactly who we are.”

The Crybaby Club is an all inclusive girl gang, celebrating the power of sensitivity through support, art and girl love. Such a beautiful thing to be a part of, and I am so happy that I had the opportunity to contribute to their wonderful network of amazing gals.

If you haven’t checked them out, please do so! Such a supportive gang to be part of, and everyone needs something like this in their lives ❤

 

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Self Love

It’s so much easier to love other people, than to love ourselves. It sucks, but it’s true. Unconditional love is a complete and whole love without limitations. Accepting ourselves is so important, and unconditional love comes from within, before we can completely and  unconditionally love others. Go with your gut, trust yourself and accept all of the things that make up who you are as a person (that’s your bad habits and flaws too!). Remember, your body is a beautiful thing. It heals you without any conscious thought. You’re here breathing, and moving your eyes along the screen. Your body is your temple, and it’s worshipping you every day!Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 12.47.51.png

Feeling comfortable in your own skin is difficult, but important to your wellness. We always pick out our flaws as a person, then cannot understand why others do not see them as strongly as we do, if at all. For example, If I’m worried about my skin, or a bad habit I have- my friends seem baffled. I think a lovely way to the journey of self love is the saying ‘treat yourself how you would treat your best friend’. We all have days where we’re not so confident in ourselves, and feel uncomfortable in our bodies. It’s ok. Who is 100% happy with themselves all of the time? No one. Treat yourself with kindness, and the world will bring it back to you in abundance. Be gentle, you’re doing so well already ❤

We need to feel secure in ourselves, so it’s that little bit easier to not rely on others for happiness. If we constantly look to others for acceptance, how will we truly learn to love ourselves? We need to seek it within, so loving becomes such a wonderful and rad thing.

Be gentle with yourself, you ❤

Mental Health Is A Part Of Us All- Yes, Us All!

We have physical health, and we have mental health. It should be quite simple, right? Well, it feels like common sense- that our health is us as a whole, that we need to take care of our bodies and minds as one. Then how come mental health isn’t spoken about as much? Sometimes our mental health even comes with physical symptoms. Chest pains, loss of appetite, migraines, fatigue etc. It’s all linked, and our mind controls everything too! Ever get a tummy pain or a headache, and the more you think about how much it hurts- the more you feel it hurting somehow? When we focus on our pains or aches with our thoughts, the more our pains and aches control our thinking, our ability to concentrate and even our mobility as a person. Well, it all loops back to our thoughts and our mental state. This is our mental health. Whether you know it or not, you have mental health. Just like we all breathe in oxygen, have bones, skin, as well as blood flowing through our veins. It’s a part of us, and we have to take care of it.

Having a healthy mind is just as important as a health body

The next time you see someone in the street, or on their way to work, even in your workplace- just remember they have mental health. We aaallll have mental health! You are not alone, we all go through something- and you deserve to be ok. Every single person on this big huge rock we call our home has a mental state, even if we don’t talk about it. Our health is part of us all, whether we can see it or not.

Take care of yourself you, and keep real!

A list of helplines are on my blog, and if you feel you’d like to read more on mental health, type ‘mental health’ into the search bar ❤